In their biggest game of the 2017-18 season, the Carolina Hurricanes showed up big time, shutting out the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-0.
The Carolina Hurricanes have not been playing with a full deck so far this season. They struggled a bit early on and their scheduling has often left them with multiple games in hand over their Metropolitan Division foes. On Thursday, Jan. 4, the Hurricanes had the chance to firmly cement themselves in the playoff picture against the Pittsburgh Penguins. They did exactly that with a 4-0 win.
In the first period, the game was fairly even, with neither team scoring. Carolina held an eight to six lead in shots on goal and both teams had 14 shot attempts.
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However, the second period is when the Hurricanes took over. Jeff Skinner created a turnover in the neutral zone, stealing the puck from Ian Cole. On a breakaway, he showed why he’s one of the NHL’s most underrated scorers.
This gave the Hurricanes a ton of momentum, as they started to take over the game. Their effort was rewarded later in the second period when forward Teuvo Teravainen scored his 11th goal of the season. Forward Sebastian Aho got the primary assist while defenseman Jaccob Slavin picked up the secondary assist.
Aho, who got overlooked as a rookie last season, had a very dominant third period. He picked up two goals. On the first goal, Jordan Staal picked up the primary assist while Brett Pesce picked up the secondary assist. Teravainen was so happy with Aho’s assist on his goal, he returned the favor by setting up his Finnish friend on his second goal.
Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward recovered from a very rough game against the Washington Capitals, stopping each of the 21 shots he faced. Carolina has now won seven of their last 10 games, picking up at least a point in eight of those 10 as well.
The Hurricanes’ win gives them a little bit of breathing room, as they hold a two-point lead over the New York Islanders for the second wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. Because the Isles play on Friday, Carolina will soon have two games in hand over them. The Hurricanes are in a good position right now, as they hope to make the postseason for the first time since the 2008-09 season.
Meanwhile, the Penguins slump continues. They had hoped a 5-1 over the Philadelphia Flyers would give them something to hang their hat on. But now the Penguins are looking at the very plausible possibility of missing the postseason for the first time since the 2005-06 season.